ROB Becker’s hilarious play, Defending the Caveman, is finally coming to Pietermaritzburg! Tim Plewman will be bringing the award-winning show to the Hexagon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from Wednesday, October 7 to Saturday, October 10.
Bringing the show to Pietermaritzburg is, he says, part of a concerted effort to stage the play in smaller venues around the country.
“It’s my show now, so I can take it where I like, to places like the Hexagon and the Victory Theatre in Joburg. In the old days we would do two weeks in Durban and then a week in Pietermaritzburg. I think people stopped for financial reasons.”
The Treverton School old boy, who also plans to take Caveman to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban next year, added that the last time he can remember being on stage in the city was when he did Tom Foolery about 30 years ago.
Plewman, who won a best actor award for his work on Defending the Caveman when it was first staged, described the show as an affectionate comedy in two acts about men and women.
In Defending the Caveman he plays the hero of the tale, who is anxious to defend the beleaguered male and comes up with a theory that male-female relations are thwarted by their refusal to acknowledge the fact that the female gatherer is almost an entirely different species to the male hunter!
Asked what prompted him to bring the play back to the stage, he said: “I was doing Designer Genes [which was performed at the Hilton Arts Festival last year] when I got a call from the rights holders for Defending the Caveman.
“They asked if they could come and see me. When I asked them why they said they wanted me to do my version of Caveman again. I told them that as long as I had the rights to the show I would look into it.
“I read the book again to see if I could still bring the kind of energy that it needs to live and breathe as it should. After reading it I felt that with a few tweaks I could do it. It still amused me. So I told them I would take it on and started to work on the play.
“An enormous amount of work goes into creating a piece like this … to understand the humour and the poignancy. It has to feel real to people to be meaningful to them as well as being very, very funny.”
Initially Plewman planned to do a slow – and small – reintroduction of Defending the Caveman, but the theatre gods clearly had other ideas.
“The venue I had chosen cancelled two months before the show and then I got a call from Emperor’s Palace. They asked me to do two shows … to an audience of 1800 people, so no pressure!,” he said.
“But it was wonderful. I designed a new set and put things in that I felt had been missing from the old show. And the audiences who came to see it were interesting – I had the older people who saw the show 10 years ago but they also brought along people, younger people, who had never seen the show.”
After his run at Emperor’s Palace, Plewman took Caveman to Cape Town for 10 shows and then to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Both runs proved to be hugely successful.
It was a relief for Plewman, who admits that his biggest concern in bringing the show back was whether or not it would still be relevant to people.
“The real joy is understanding that of course it is,” he added. “Men and women are still the same and the problems we experience are 90 percent the same which means the solutions are also 90 percent the same.”
His thoughts are echoed by the show’s creator, Becker, who when asked to explain its success said: “I think the show gives people a way to understand themselves and their partners while they’re laughing and I think some healing takes place when a couple sits in a darkened theatre, laughing with hundreds of other couples, realising they are not alone.”
So, if you fancy hearing Plewman’s take on the battle of the sexes, book your seats at Computicket now. Tickets for Defending the Caveman range from R130 to R180 (concessions available). Showtimes are 6 pm on October 7 and 8 pm on October, 8, 9 and 10.
The show will also be staged at the Victory Theatre, Houghton, Johannesburg from November 11 to December 24. Book at Computicket.
DID YOU KNOW?
Tim Plewman is one of the most sought after actors in South Africa, equally at home in drama or comedy.
His first leading role was in 1978 in the comedy, Happy Birthday. He has also starred in the comedies Two Into One, winning the Fleur du Cap Award for best actor, Doubles, for which he won the Vita Comedy Award for best actor, Heel Against the Head, for which he won the Vita Award for best director and Defending the Caveman, for which he received the Vita Award for best comedy actor. Tim decided to hang up his caveman skins after nine and a half years and 1544 sold out performances.
He has also starred in numerous musicals, three of his favourites being, Snoopy!!!, Tom Foolery and Singin’ in the Rain.
As a writer, he has penned some memorable plays like Grin & Bare It, Breakfast with Dad, and The Insatiables, which won the best play of the year at the SA Comedy Awards. In addition, Tim has written such TV series as The Carruthers Brothers with Bill Flynn and Pure Plewman for M-Net.
In June 2013, Tim was acclaimed for his tour de force performance in the one-man play, The Last Moustache, written by Greg Viljoen, and performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and at the Hilton Arts Festival. It is the story of an actor forced to play a Hitler double during the last weeks of WWII.
Tim has also written the play Designer Genes XXL – The Return of the Caveman, a tongue in cheek look at relationships.
His most recent writing project has been the book, Fitness For Old Farts, published by Random Struik, a very funny book about a serious subject close to Tim’s heart, fitness and health. He is now actively doing motivational speaking engagements countrywide on the subject of fitness for old farts, and inspiring the over 50’s to regain fitness, flexibility and fun by showing them how to roll back the years and find new shape and vitality.